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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey speaks addressing a 2020 Trump rally in Prescott, Arizona. Photo: Caitlin O'Hara/Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a key aspect of a new Arizona abortion law hours before it was due to take effect.

Why it matters: The legislation would have allowed felony charges to be laid against doctors who knowingly terminated pregnancies solely due to genetic issues, such as Down syndrome, and anyone who helped fund such abortions.

Details: U.S. District Judge Douglas Rayes raised concerns in an order granting a partial preliminary injunction against the law, signed by Gov. Doug Ducey this year, that the definitions regarding genetic issues were too vague.

  • The judge questioned how a doctor could "know" what's going through a patient's mind in such instances.
  • "This problem is exacerbated by the reality that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is a complex one, and often is motivated by a variety of considerations, some of which are inextricably intertwined with the detection of a fetal genetic" issue, Rayes wrote.

Yes, but: Rayes declined to grant a preliminary injunction for another aspect of the legislation requiring fetuses, embryos and fertilized eggs to be referred to as "people" from the point of conception. 

What they're saying: Emily Nestler, a senior counsel for the ACLU, which filed a lawsuit challenging the legislation on behalf of the Arizona Medical Association and a local doctor, expressed relief in a statement that the "'reason ban' will be blocked while this case continues."

  • "People should not be interrogated about their reason for seeking an abortion," she added. "There are no right or wrong reasons."

The other side: Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, which sponsored the legislation, said in a statement that Tuesday's ruling was "only the first review by the federal courts."

  • "We remain confident the law will be upheld and ruled enforceable in its entirety," Herrod added.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Nestler and Herrod.

Go deeper

Texas urges Supreme Court to leave abortion ban in place

Photo: Emily Elconin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to keep in place a law that bans abortions after an embryo's cardiac activity is detected, which can be as soon as six weeks and before many people know they are pregnant.

Driving the news: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the high court to ignore the Justice Department's emergency request that they temporarily block the law while federal courts consider its constitutionality since it "lacks standing because it has not been injured by SB 8."

Appeals court scraps order mandating COVID protections for immigrant detainees

ICE detention center in downtown Los Angeles. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

Judges on a federal appeals court Wednesday voted 2-1 to overturn an order requiring authorities to monitor and possibly release immigrants being held at detention centers if they are at high-risk for long term COVID-19 complications, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Why it matters: In its ruling, the San Fransisco-based panel said a federal district judge overreached in 2020 when he issued a preliminary injunction requiring the monitoring. The Trump administration appealed that ruling, and Biden's Justice Department continued to argue against it when he took office.

Updated 8 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.